• Space Run Galaxy review by Rick Moscatello

    Mobile Tower Defense

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    Tower defense games are hit-and-miss for me, usually miss. The basic idea of tower defense games is simple enough: You build your towers (and other defenses), then sit back and watch the bad guys come. Either you blow them all away, or you lose and play it all over again, modifying your strategy until you don’t lose. Or, you play the other way around, organizing a stream of troops to get through tower defenses. Either you mindlessly win, or you get sucked into endless repetition until you figure it out.

    You need three things for a good tower defense game. You need many strategic options, lest that repetition get too dull—Gratuitous Tank Battles does it best for me. The battles need to be fun to watch, because a big part of this genre is sitting back and watching—Gratuitous Space Battles does a great job of making the battles easy to appreciate. Finally, you need a hook, something to stand out from the very, very, basic structure of the game—Dungeon Defenders puts in the action, keeping the game very exciting at all times.

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    Go forth and auto-destroy!

    Space Run Galaxy (SRG) doesn’t bill itself as a tower defense game, but it’s close enough, at least in one direction. Instead of sitting back, you advance through space building your towers as you and the enemy approach each other. It’s a big enough change that the basic underlying structure as a tower defense game is sometimes hard to see.

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    There's not much story, but it'll do.

    The storyline for the game is simple enough: you’re a space trader, and you transport goods around the ridiculously danger-filled galaxy in a weird ship, one that requires re-building over and over again. The weird ship is by far the weakest aspect of the game for me, but it’s also what makes this a tower defense game.

    You build your towers (laser cannons and shields, for example) on the ship. As your ship flies through (two dimensional) space, various bad guys show up, and the towers semi-automatically deal with them. You can manually take over a tower to trigger special abilities.

    One twist on the genre here, and it’s an important one, is you get a bonus for completing the mission more quickly. The amount of time it takes to complete/travel is based on your thrusters, so you do have a choice: build laser turrets, or thrusters. It’s kind of nice, but you can only fit so many thrusters on your ship, so the resource management aspect here is only a partial win (and I prefer guns anyway).

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    The graphics are excellent for an Indie game.

    The strategic options, frankly, are a little dull for me. You basically build your cannons and point them in the right direction, and missions play out identically each time you play them…mostly it’s about building towers in the right order and setting up the proper defense, which may involve having the right kind of special equipment for the job, acquired on previous missions. Granted, repetition is a big part of tower defense, but it’s pretty grating to re-build that ship over and over again.

    There’s a stronger real time element here than in many tower defense games, so it’s ok that the battles aren’t much fun to watch—you’re too busy killing things. That said, the graphics in the other aspects of the game (dealing with other characters) are very inviting, with a pleasing cartoonish look that makes it easy to ignore just how few people are in the universe.

    The whole “fly through space and blast bad guys” theme is good, and the ability to customize your ship platform at space stations does add strategic options, though bottom line for me is that, despite the very nice look, there isn’t that much here. SRG lacks the “sit back and watch” part of this genre, so I never feel well-rewarded, as I’m too busy scrambling to re-build the same darn laser turrets I built on the previous run. The real-time building elements aren’t as stressful as, say, your typical real-time strategy game, but are about as annoying as they are amusing.

    There’s also a multiplayer element here, but it’s pretty minimal, basically letting other players complete “runs” for you, or vice versa. There’s no head-to-head where you can toss asteroids or space pirates at your opponent’s ship while he tries to survive.

    If you’re a fan of this genre, SRG is worth a look, a look you might not otherwise take because it doesn’t call itself a tower defense game. If you’re not a fan, SRG probably won’t change your mind about tower defense games, as there’s still some tweaking to be done on the design before the Space Run system can truly be considered an ‘A’ title worthy of every player’s game library.

    Final Score: 72.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Space Run Galaxy review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post